Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Game 135 - Mets

Mets 5, Marlins 4
Record: 75-60
1st Place in NL East by 2 games over PHL

Two days ago a wise, wise person with his finger truly on the pulse of the New York Metropolitans baseball club wrote in his stellar blog post:
"We all know Carlos Beltran is decidedly un-clutch (I'm sorry, Bill James, but it's true). On occasion I think this trait is seeping its way up the order into David Wright."
Yep. I wrote that on Wednesday. The lesson here, as always, is that I am an idiot.

Labor Day weekend at the pool down here is a bit of a social event, and after finishing up a long week of solving the world's problems, I headed over and unwound with a Heineken or two . . . every half hour for four hours. A few laughs, a few dips in the pool, and an impromptu sleepover for my wife and daughters at some friends', leaving me to my TiVoed Mets uninterrupted in glorious HD . . . not a bad way to kick off a holiday weekend.

When Golden Boy struck out with the bases loaded in the top of the 7th -- in what I figured might be their last best good chance -- I shook my head in an "I told you so" sort of way. Dee-Dub had swung right through a Joe Nelson offering that we've seen him drive to the gap countless times. In this big spot . . . (doing my best Yukon Cornelius) . . . nothin'!

Ah, patience, my son. For in the final frame, after the first two men had made outs (boy, is the "s" on the end of that last word keeping us from attracting some alternative Googlers), the Mets rallied in stirring fashion. If this were pre-2004/07, I'd have made an unnice reference to Oct 86 for Rob's benefit. So sad to have lost that little dig.

Down 2-1. 2 down, 0-2 to Luis Castillo. Despite my doubts, I found those familiar lyrics starting to bounce around in my head . . .

All we are saying . . .
Is give Dave a chance

Single up the middle. Okay -- scrap what I'd said before. Now I am actually 100% sure David Wright will come through. Even as I'd hurled pessimistic aspersions his way earlier, it's apparent that was just nonsense. As he sharply grounds a 2-1 pitch through the hole on the left side, the un-clutch silliness drains away. Delgado takes one in the shin before we can even begin to think about his at-bat, leaving . . .

Carlos Beltran. Mister Un-Clutch. Mister NLCS Game 7 Frozen Called Third Strike. Mister 2 Home Runs When It's 7-1. And in some circles, Mister Beltran.

Beltran hammered -- absolutely hammered -- the very first toss from Kevin Gregg into the empty right-field seats. 5-2, Mets. One-man bedlam in my house.

I repeat: The lesson here, as always, is that I am an idiot.

Denouement / twist ending: Luis Ayala has been effective since being called up from the AAA Washington Nationals. Some might say he's been overdue for an outing that's some indication as to where his ERA-like-a-hat-size and a bloodbath-of-a-W-L-record came from. We got that last night. Staked to this 3-run lead, Ayala made us sweat all through bottom 9.

A quick search through the MLC annals finds exactly one among the 1,441 posts here containing the word "Ayala" in it. A passage from the April 20, 2004 wisdom:
But the Mets' weak hitting (4 hits, 2 walks, 1 run) is certainly understandable when you have to run the gauntlet of Zach "Try to Remember My Name for a" Day, Luis "Ayala My Name Out and Still Nobody Knows Who I Am," and Rocky "Well, I got me a fine wife, I got me old fiddle, when the sun's comin' up I got cakes on the griddle, life ain't nothin' but a funny, funny" Biddle. (Sorry, it was either that or Rocky "Little in the" Biddle "And He Got Much Back.") My point, somewhere in that muck, is that these guys aren't exactly having their baseball cards taken in to collector shops for pricing.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be typing the word "nearly" in between "Luis Ayala" and "blew the lead and cost the Mets a much-needed, critical, emotionally uplifting, confidence-building, Beltran-actually-came-through-that-son-of-a-bitch-I-can't-believe-it victory." On this Saturday morning on a Labor Day weekend with the Mets up 2 games, that "nearly" is making all the difference. Congrats, Luis. I nearly want you on the hill with the game on the line again tonight.

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